The year is 1901 and it’s a stifling hot day towards the end of summer in Buffalo, New York. And at the end of a long national tour President William McKinley is in town for the Pan-American Exposition. Here, he’s engaged in one of his favorite activities – meeting and greeting the great American public. But what should have been a joyful event turned into a tragic calamity.
Indeed, the consequences of that catastrophe would reverberate through American society. McKinley had just led the nation to victory in the American-Spanish war and was a popular president as a result. Americans were appalled by his death and there was also international grief, with many European countries observing a mourning period for McKinley.
As McKinley’s body lay in state at Washington’s Capitol Rotunda, hordes of mourners came to view his remains. When his funeral train traveled across the country to Canton, Ohio, where the President was interred, cities came to a complete halt to mark his passing. Those old enough to remember the death of President John F. Kennedy can probably recognize the feelings of those grieving Americans over a century ago.